In 2015, Norton CEO Stuart Garner was approached by Jamie Ireson of Brighton, England-based customs outfit 72 Motorcycles with the idea for a limited run of bikes paying homage to Ron Wood’s 1970s Norton flat track racers. Ron Wood famously teamed up with tuning legend CR Axtell to create a handful of Norton-based dirt track racers that were surprisingly successful in professional competition.
Informally known as “Big Tube” racers, Wood built the first machine in the early ‘70s, followed by another a couple of years later. The massive single-backbone, double-down tube frames were incredibly lightweight and gave the slightly underpowered Nortons a fighting chance against the competition (which included factory-backed Nortons). In 1974, Rob Morrison won the Ascot Park championship aboard Wood’s racer — landing him a ride aboard a factory Norton the following year. In 1975, Alex Jorgenson won the Ascot race before repeating the feat again in ’76. Two years later, Jorgenson won the 1978 Ascot Park Half Mile national, marking the second GNC ever won by a Norton, as well as the last Norton to ever win (or even earn points) in a Grand National dirt track race.
Limited to only 12 units, the Wood tributes — dubbed the “MM” — are powered by the 961cc air/oil-cooled parallel twin from the modern Dominator model. Influenced by Wood’s large steel tube structures, the MM’s OHV twin is housed in a custom frame where oil is held in the spine and the engine is utilized as a stressed member. A custom subframe (with integrated lighting built into the frame loop) was also added to support the MM’s thin, vintage-style tracker seat (made by CW Trimming).
First unveiled by Norton at the 2015 Motorcycle Live show at the NEC, the MM was designed and executed in less than six months — a feat made all the more impressive considering every custom part was CAD-designed using files supplied by Norton.
The tank is also a fully bespoke element comprised of four metal sheets that were hand-formed, welded together, and painted in a replica “Big Tube” livery laid down by England’s Image Design Custom. The MM also sports custom side-panels produced by Lasertech, which hide the fuse-box, relays, and ECU. There’s also a custom alloy cage just above the swing-arm that houses the battery. Lasertech is also responsible for the bike’s front tracker-style numberplate. A hand-shaped rear fender is another crucial touch.
The exhaust system is a hand-rolled dual single-pipe setup modeled directly after Wood’s racers. Built by “Tom at the Foundry”, the pair culminates in reverse cone mufflers and the entire system’s been ceramic-coated in black by Wes at Hi-Spec Coatings. Other highlights include Ohlins forks from a Panigale, slotted in one-off triples from Fastec Racing, Brembo braking hardware, custom velocity stacks, Moto Gadget instrumentation and transponder, single projector headlight, and a custom skid-plate and matching radiator guard with Norton “N” and “MM” logos.
Each of the 12 MM examples gets its own hand-painted race numbers on the boards, otherwise the dozen bikes are identical. When the MM originally went on sale in 2016, it carried an MSRP of £30,000 ($37,400). While I don’t fault Norton or 72 for not using Ceriani forks and 19-inch alloy Barnes rims (apparently Jamie tried but the geometry wouldn’t allow for it), it would have been cool to see the tribute bikes get the supplementary clip-ons that Jorgenson used for a better race tuck on the straights.
All in all, the MM does a pretty solid job of recreating Wood’s GNC-winning tracker using contemporary Norton powertrains. With lighting fore and aft, the MM is said to be fully street legal as well. You can find this Norton “MM” from 72 Motorcycles for sale here on TheBikeShed in London, England with a price of £22,500 ($28,000)